Things To Know About Your Car's Starter

Ever seen old-timey footage of someone starting his old car by turning a crank coming out of the front of the car? Well, thanks to the modern car starter, we don't have to do that anymore. And that's essentially what the car starter is for: it gives the engine its initial turn so that it can begin the combustion cycle and start running on its own power. Below, we'll tell you four more things all Toyota owners should know about their car's starter.

The starter is what gives your engine the initial push when you turn the key 

4. The Starter Meshes With The Engine's Flywheel

The starter has a small starting gear that, when you turn the key or press the engine start button, engages the engine's flywheel. Then it delivers power, getting the engine rotating. This allows it to suck air and fuel into the cylinders and begin the combustion process that allows it to run on its own. That's why the flywheel is considered one of the most essential parts of any engine. Without it, the engine simply can't get started. Or, if the teeth break on the starter gear or flywheel, the engine starter may "freewheel," spinning freely instead of engaging the engine's flywheel.

If your car won't start, the starter may be fine. It might just be that your battery needs to be replaced, so get your battery tested first 

3. The Starter Requires A Ton Of Electricity

Modern car batteries need to store a ton of juice, primarily for the starter. That's why you might find that accessories like lights and the stereo still work, even if there isn't enough power remaining in the battery to operate the starter. It takes a lot of energy for this little motor to turn over your big, heavy engine. That's why, if your battery is old, or hasn't been recharged in some time, your car might not start. Have a battery health test performed to find out if you need a new car battery, a new alternator or if there is a problem with the starter itself.

2. A Bad Starter Will Prevent Your Car From Starting (Obviously)

If the starter itself goes bad -- say, due to a bad electrical connection or a malfunctioning solenoid -- then the engine also won't start. However, even if you have a working starter and a charged up battery, the vehicle may still not start if it's not getting the fuel and air it needs to run or the spark it needs to detonate the air/fuel mixture.

Listening closely when you turn the key can help you identify the problem keeping your car from starting 

1. You Can Listen For A Bad Starter Or Other Problem

When you turn the key, listen closely. If you don't hear anything at all, then either the starter itself is broken and won't crank or there isn't enough power coming to the starter from the battery. However, if you can hear the engine crank -- that rapid percussive sound chirping noise you first hear when you turn the key -- but the engine still won't start, you can likely rule out starter or battery problems. Instead, you're likely to have an issue with fuel delivery, air intake or the spark ignition system. And if you hear a relatively quiet whirring or buzzing sound, that's probably the starter "freewheeling." The starter motor is working, and the starter gear is spinning, but it's not meshing properly with the engine's flywheel. Find out more about exactly what's wrong with your vehicle at the Capitol Toyota service center.